Team USA Wins Revenge Game

PHOENIX–Two years later, the United States and Mexico remain as close as their border.

In a rematch of their 2003 Olympic qualifier in Panama, the United
States and Mexico again took a tie game into the ninth inning.

This time, the U.S. got the hit that mattered, when Jarrod
Saltalamacchia (Braves) grounded a single to right field to drive in
Brad Snyder (Indians) from third base in the last of the ninth for a
5-4 victory in the second game of CONCEBE Regional Olympic qualifying
tournament Wednesday.

While Team USA’s rally may not have been as dramatic as Luis
Garcia’s home run in the ninth inning in Panama, it enabled the U.S. to
avenge a 2-1 loss there that kept the Americans from defending their
2000 gold medal at the 2004 Athens Games.

“We definitely had a little payback in mind,” Snyder said.

A budding rivalry?

“It is now,” Snyder added. “These guys being as close as they are to
us, they want to beat us when they get a chance. They want to show us
what they have down there. We want to do the same.”

Snyder opened the ninth with a two-strike bloop double to short
right that fell just out of the reach of second baseman Flavio Romero.
Brendan Harris (Nationals) pushed a bunt past the mound, and both
runners were safe when the ball rolled to the infield dirt.
Saltalamacchia hit the first pitch for the game-winner.

“No worries. I knew the infield was in, so I just wanted to get a
pitch to hit. You know that run is going to get in sooner or later,”
Saltalamacchia said.

“I broke my bat on it, but I’ll take it,” Snyder said of his
double. “I thought it was going to be more shallow than it was. But fly
balls were kinda tough, so I was just busting my hump to get to second
if he didn’t get it.”

Canada (2-0) beat winless Guatemala, 12-0, when three pitchers
combined in a seven-inning no-hitter Wednesday. The U.S. beat
Guatemala, 23-0, on Tuesday Team USA righthander Adam Bass today will
face Nicaragua (1-1), which beat Panama (1-1) on Wednesday.

“It goes as a wakeup call,” Snyder said. “They played us tough. We are not going to roll over every team.”

U.S. stater Jered Weaver (Angels), a veteran of USA Baseball’™s
college national team in 2003 and its 2004 Golden Spikes Award winner,
struck out the side in the first and second innings, relying mainly on
a dominant mid-90s fastball, before Mexico struck for two runs with two
outs in the third.

Team USA shortstop Brandon Wood (Angels) took a single away from Manuel Velez with a pickup behind second base to open the third, but Weaver walked No. 9 hitter Rolando Acosta (a White Sox draftee in 2003 out of Pima, Ariz., CC) with two outs. Romero lined a tripled into the right field corner to break the shutout before Leo Arauz singled to center to make it 2-0. Luis Carlos Garcia followed with a double to the gap in left-center before Weaver got cleanup hitter Francisco Mendez to fly out to center.

Team USA got its first run off lefthander Oscar Rivera, who pitched
a perfect game for Yucatan in the Mexican League playoffs this summer,
in the fourth without getting the ball out of the infield. Howie
Kendrick (Angels) beat out an infield single and took second when
shortstop Acosta threw the ball wide of first. Kendrick took third on a
broken-bat groundout and scored on a cued grounder to first base by
Ryan Shealy (Rockies).

The U.S. took a 4-2 lead with three two-out runs in the fifth.
Saltalamacchia (Braves) singled before Lastings Milledge (Mets) walked
on a 3-2 pitch. Shane Victorino (Phillies) singled to left to tie the
game, the runners taking second and third on a throw to the plate.

Kendrick reached on another throwing error by Acosta and both
baserunners scored, the speedy Victorino running all the way and making
it without a throw.

Mexico tied the game at 4 on Velez’s two-run single in the sixth,
after Mendez singled to open the inning and Edgar Quintero was credited
with a double when left fielder Milledge appeared to lose a deep but
playable fly ball in the sun near the warning track.

“We gave them a couple of runs. They gave us a couple of runs,”
U.S. manager Davey Johnson said. “I tip my hat to their pitching. That
lefthander (Rivera) was tough. Used both sides of the plate. He was
outstanding.”

In Canada’™s no-hitter, Jonathan Lockwood (Mariners), Steve Green
(Tigers) and former big leaguer Aaron Myette combined on the
seven-inning no-no. Lockwood, who pitched at short-season Everett and
low Class A Wisconsin this season, threw five innings with five
strikeouts and one walk, while Green and Myette threw an inning apiece.
The game was called early by the 10-run mercy rule.

“I think it was just about concentrating on your pitches, throwing
strikes and letting the batters get themselves out,” Lockwood said. “We
just wanted to get the win, and I wanted to make sure I got out there
and made things quick to get our batters back up to the plate and stay
hot.”

Catcher Max St. Pierre (Tigers), playing for the Canadian national
team for the first time, went 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Jeremy Ware hit
a two-run homer to pace Canada’™s offense.

International | #2005 #International Affairs #Olympics

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